Apple has improved its .Mac service, raising storage to 1GB and implementing extra features, with a focus on sharing and collaboration.

With an eye to Europe, the company also introduced French and German localization for .Mac, adding to its existing Japanese and English versions. This means localized versions of the .Mac site are now available in these four languages.

The company's subscription service's new features include: .Mac Groups, a service that helps members communicate, coordinate schedules and stay in sync with private groups of friends or colleagues; an updated version of .Mac Backup; a 400 per cent increase in combined iDisk and email storage to 1GB for individuals and 2GB for families; and full French and German localization.

Apple's vice president of applications marketing Rob Schoeben said: ".Mac provides the simple and elegant online experience consumers expect from Apple".

He added that .Mac's integration with key applications, such as iLife 05 or even the Tiger OS itself has helped subscribers "discover a better way to experience the Internet."

.Mac Groups:

.Mac members can use the service to create private, ad-free online communities in which members can collaborate together.

The feature - .Mac Groups - lets members send emails to the entire group using a single address; post files, pictures and movies with a common group iDisk; publish group Web pages and post links to other sites; and keep up-to-date with the latest group events with a shared iCal calendar.

Backup 3

Apple's back-up solution has been heavily redesigned. Backup 3 is easier to set up and offers faster backups than before. It also lets users automate the backup process. This version will automatically back up iLife content, a user's Home folder, and iTunes purchases. The software integrates with Tiger's Spotlight desktop search tool, so it's slightly easier to select specific files to back up.

Storage up 400%!

Storage for individual .Mac members has been increased to 1GB of combined email and iDisk space, while .Mac Family Pack customers now receive 2GB of combined storage. Members can choose to share the storage between email and iDisk storage.

Individuals or Family Pack members can purchase an additional 1GB of storage for $49.95 annually.

.Mac now costs $99.95 per year for individuals and $179.95 for a Family Pack which includes one master account and five sub accounts.